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Hi Everyone,

I'm in the process of designing my dream tank, the design itself has gone through quite a few changes over the last 12 months.

I originally started this project with the ideal of using a sump and hiding all the equipment out of the display tank. I was initially disheartened to see quite a few people encountering notable CO2 loss from water agitation in the overflow/sump setup.

Then I saw some pretty nifty tanks using all in-line equipment, and canister filters that were able to achieve an equipment free display tank, without the CO2 loss in sump setups. I even had a go at designing how I would set out my tank, and I got some excellent feedback from these forums.

I've been tossing up between those two main designs, sump versus inline/canister systems, it's the battle that has been fighting in my head over the last few months, looking at the pro's and con's for both designs.

For my own requirements and preferences, the sump design started to look like the better option, especially when I came across a few idea's on how to reduce CO2 loss and designing a sump for a planted tank.

So I've come up with a new design for my dream tank, that I wanted to share on the forums, and receive feedback and perspective to help improve/tweak the design before I move forward to the building stage.

So lets get to the tank......



The planned dimensions for the starphire display are:
L x W x H = 60" x 24" x 24" (5ft x 2ft x 2ft)

The overflow box dimensions are:
L x W x H = 5" x 24" x 22"
I understand that the overflow is a lot larger than what is required, I just prefer having a defined edge to the display, rather than trying to cram the overflow into one of the corners.

The sump dimensions are: (not finalized but approximately)
L x W x H = 43" x 20" x 20"

So lets have a look at how this puppy works.....



Ok, from the "Top Down" view of the tank, you can see that the overflow is on one edge of the display.

The overflow has 2 drains:

  1. Main = The main drain is a bulkhead drilled into the bottom of the tank, it has a ball valve underneath the tank, which can be adjusted to increase or decrease flow, which will adjust the water height in the overflow box. This is designed to be able to reduce the distance the water will fall when coming into the overflow (to reduce CO2 loss)
  2. Emergency - If the main drain is blocked, closed or pretty much fails to work, the emergency drain is approx 0.5 inches higher than the maximum height of the overflow. So this emergency drain only kicks in if the water level in the tank rises to a point to start flowing down the emergency drain (preventing flooding the display tank)
Within the overflow I have also placed the return (from the sump/filtration) plumbing, to pretty much come up in the middle of the tank. I will use loc-line to split flow within the tank, and give me flexibility to adjust where to direct the flow.

This next picture shows you how the emergency drain and return is set:



So lets look at the filtration design.....



Under the tank you can see on the left hand side the 2 drain pipes from the overflow box.

The closest drain is the main drain, and you can see the red marking of where the ball valve would be, to adjust the flow (to adjust the height of the water within the overflow).

From the tank, the water enters the first compartment of the sump.

This first compartment will have a lid that will be sealed (not permanently) to contain any de-gassed CO2 so it can be re-absorbed into the water in that compartment. I haven't finalized how I will do this exactly, i've seen suggestions to use duct tape to make it air tight, or some other kind of seal.

From the first compartment, the water then enters the filtration sections:


  • Filter Section A - will be purely Mechanical filtration, these sections are made up of two, 10" x 10" cubes, which I will fill with mechanical media
  • Filter Section B - again is made up of two, 10" x 10" cubes, which will contain fine mechanical media, bio media, and a bag of Purigen.
  • Filter Section C - will house heaters, be an area to dose fertilizers etc, it is also where the pump intake will be located
A top down view of the sump gives a better look at how the sections are set out:



This picture shows the water level, and how the water flows through the sump:



Lets see where the water travels after the sump.....



The water is pumped from the sump, back into the tank, I have also added 2 external in-line CO2 diffusers to add CO2 into the system.

The above picture gives an idea how the water would flow, but the next diagram shows a better view how the CO2 is set up:




So from the pump, the water has a straight path to go back to the tank, however the first tee directs some water to go to the CO2 reactors.

This section has a lot of ball valves (which would also include unions for easy disconnects/reconnects), to enable control over the flow of the water.

From the return line, the flow is split to direct water into both reactors.

The water from both of the reactors are brought back together, then meet up again with the main return line to the display.

These diagrams have a lot of 90 degree elbows, this is purely because of the way I draw using Google sketch up, in practice I would be using mostly flexible PVC hoses, with rigid PVC for the tees, ball valves and unions etc.



This final picture shows how the 2 CO2 reactors are set up, and it also shows the plumbing for the water changes, by opening the ball valve, it will pump water out of the system to a nearby drain.

No more buckets for me YAY!!!!!!

So there you have it, like I said in the begining of this post, I wanted to share this design on the forums, and receive feedback and perspective to help improve/tweak the design before I move forward.

Thank you for reading,

Cheers,

Cam
 

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Hi, this is exactly how I am designing tank. I am working on the stand now and how to place it in my home. My dimensions will be 1 foot shorter though at 120cmX60X60. I see no problems with your design, though in my case I have split the return in the tank into two parts, with the emergncy and main drain both at the center of the overflow box and the returns at the sides (where your emergency and main drains are located). I feel this will allow me to direct the flow better than just one return. I see no practical reason to use a canister over a sump, and with the cheap cost of Co2 just increase the bubble rate. Plus it has been shown that more co2 loss from the tank surface then from a properly designer overflow with a light drop. As long at the water level in the overflow is maintained close to the level of the water in the main tank, the drop will not cause Co2 loss and with the water entering the sump under the water surface that will prevent it as well.
Look forward to seeing your tank completed. I am working on mine here in Taiwan where tanks are easy to come by and cheap but stands are poorly designed so DIY in a small apartment can be rather messy but worth it. I just wish I had a yard to work in (livingroom not the best place to be cutting wood, sanding and painting!)
 

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Any updates? In the next week I'm going to turn a 55 or 75 gallon tank into a sump for my new 180 gallon. I'm going to build a sump similar to yours and would appreciate any tips/ideas you have after building yours. Thanks
 

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I feel as if the T that splits water into the reactors and into the return line won't work as you imagined. most of the water will just flow into the line that goes directly into the tank, and bypass the reactors completely. Fluids flow in the direction of least resistance.

otherwise, this is awesome. I love the initial set up parts of a tank, and once everything is complete, i get bored and want to start on my next tank.
 

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I feel as if the T that splits water into the reactors and into the return line won't work as you imagined. most of the water will just flow into the line that goes directly into the tank, and bypass the reactors completely. Fluids flow in the direction of least resistance.
Yep, this is the one big problem I see in the design. If you want to be able to bypass the co2 reactors, throw a ball valve in there, but you definitely need a way to force water down into them. I see the red indicator (I assume) where ball valves will go, but I don't see one that forces water into the co2 reactors.


Also? Why the two co2 reactors? I understand for greater diffusion, but if you only have one point of return into the tank, you really don't need to. Most people with large tanks that use two do so in addition to having multiple points of return so that there is better dispersion throughout the tank. With only one point of return, I'd drop down to just a single reactor.
 

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Planted Tank Sump Design and Layout By flymo

Flymo,

Great design and layout. Thanks for sharing.

Some comments and questions.

a. Using the ball valve to control the outflow may lead to flooding in the tank unless the pump can also be controlled to provided only the required amount of water for the return.

b. To reduce the distance the water will fall when coming into the overflow (to reduce CO2 loss), why not having the main drain pipe a few inches below the height of the overflow?

c. The return head is on the same side of the overflow. The water flow from the return may not reach the other end of the tank. Why not extending the return piping near the top of the tank or above the base of the tank to the other end of the tank (depending on whether you prefer to have the return flow from top or bottom of tank). This will have the return water flow from one end to the other end of the tank to the overflow.

d. What about the electric wires for the lighting at the top of the tank? Why not split the overflow area in to two section (wet and dry - half/half or 3 qtr/ 1 qtr). The wet section for the overflow with the current height and the dry section with the same height as the tank for concealing the electric wires for the lighting. The return piping can be on either side. The dry section can also be used for concealing the air bubble tubes (need some designing) for used when to light is off to provide oxygen to plants and fishes.

e. There are too many ball valves which will add much to the costs. Some are nice to have.

f. Are the CO2 reactors custom made, any design to share, or ready item in the market, where to buy?

g. For the filtration materials, why not using plastic netting to hold the materials which are much easier to take out for cleaning than the a tank in a limited space area?
 

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Plan looks good to me, for the overflow use a gate valve, ball valves will not provide the adjustment you need to properly run a herbie style overflow. The herbie i run on my reef keeps the water level just above the overflow level so there would be no fall, the emergency is then just above that to ensure no flooding if my valve is too closed. for your return look up loc-line, it may give you some ideas.
If this were my tank I would run a cheap pump from the mech section of your sump to the CO2 reactor that pumps right back into the same section.

Remember that all evaporation ends up coming from the return section of your sump. I use a cheap home depot float valve with a reservoir (rubbermaid) filled with RO water to keep mine topped up.

Lets see some updates (;))
 
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